Giving your home festive spirit doesn’t have to mean raiding the holiday aisles at your local store. Items you already have in your home—vases, canisters and jars—can be turned into show-stopping decorations by adding leftover holiday pieces or items found in your own backyard.

Not sure where to start? Local interior decorators offer some advice on how to turn your everyday glassware into masterpieces brimming with holiday spirit.

Pick Your Glass

We all have them—extra vases under our sinks and empty jars that once held fruit or condiments. Rather than hide them away out of sight, use them to create unique decorations this winter.

Dawn Johnson, owner of Mary & Martha Home, located at 9533 S. Wicker Avenue in St. John, says any glassware can make a gorgeous accessory. “A shapely hurricane, a footed compote, an apothecary jar with lid, a simple glass tray or bowl, a trendy lantern,” she says. “Look for crystal-clear glass or crystal, or with an interesting effect like seeded, ripple, wavy, etc.”

She also recommends investing once in the perfect glass vessel that can be used for years to come. “It’s so easy to switch it up to accommodate all your celebrations and whims,” Johnson says.

Head Outdoors

For the perfect fall accessory, head outdoors, says Raymond Brickner, owner of the Flower Cart, located at 145 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton. There, you’ll find acorns, pinecones, twigs, fall colored leaves and other natural materials.

“Pick a variety of different items in the color scheme you want to achieve, and different textures and sizes will create interest for your table,” he says. “If you’re doing a harvest look, for a little more of a pop you can do it with acorns and apples.”

Adding these items into a collection of glassware on a dinner table or coffee table will add depth and elegance for any holiday gathering, he says.

Save a Few Ornaments

For a glitzy or shiny holiday look, add Christmas ornaments in different combinations to large glass jars. “The combinations are endless,” Brickner says. “You can do reds and greens, silvers and golds, and even mixing candles in them will make the whole thing sparkle.”

Use special ornaments or those with unique textures to add visual interest.

Add Fresh Flowers

Just because the weather is cold doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the freshness flowers bring to a home.

Head to the market and pick out flowers with colors that are seasonal—oranges and yellows for Thanksgiving and red and white for Christmas, Brickner says. Pine branches also bring in shades of green.

Fill a glass jar with water and gently submerge the flowers. Use weights or rocks on the bottom to prevent the flowers from floating to the top.

“This can make a dinner party elegant by adding floating candles on top of the water,” Brickner says.

Add a few drops of food coloring to tint the water—further adding festive cheer to a centerpiece, he says.

Note These Tips

Once you finalize your idea, Johnson recommends beginning your design with a base for your objects. “Because of the glass, you need to stop the eye and let it focus on the objects within,” she says. “You don’t want them to float in space or seem disconnected from the container.”

Think of it as building a nest or as a resting place for the objects, she says. “Rocks, pebbles, beads, moss, berries, gravel or sand—local pet stores carry a great assortment—make good bases,” Johnson says.

Next, create layers on the base. A single twirled leaf, an exquisite bloom, a figurine or other solid object provides a focal point for your design, she says.

“Lastly, add something for movement,” Johnson says. “This will lead the eye around and through the design for a pleasing arrangement that will look complete and get plenty of attention.”

Think of a candle or group of candles, ribbon, battery-operated lights, a curved branch with leaves—any of these carry up to the top of the piece, she says.

“The possibilities are endless,” Johnson says. “If you keep in mind the basics—create a base, then layers, then movement—you will soon become a whiz at changing up your home for the holidays without buying and storing tons of stuff.”

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